Brandon Wheat Kings skate in Gladstone



L to R. Quitin Lisoway, Mark Taraschuk and Braylon Shmyr from the Brandon Wheat Kings. Photo by Eoin Devereux

By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

Players in the Gladstone Minor Hockey program received some very special instruction on Monday, Dec. 8, as several members of the Brandon Wheat Kings took to the ice with them. 

Quintin Lisoway of Neepawa, Mark Taraschuk of Winnipeg and Braylon Shmyr from Calgary, ran several drills during practice for the youth and skated with them in an impromptu pickup game. It was all related to the Minor Hockey Caravan, which sees the Western Hockey League club travel to communities across Westman.

Gladstone Minor Hockey member Greg Buydens said all the youngsters were looking forward to skating with the Wheaties.

“It was really terrific for Gladstone and for the kids. They really liked being out there,” said Buydens. “And for [the Wheat Kings] to take the time to come out and support our minor hockey association is great. For the kids and for some of the parents in the community, it’s really welcome.”

Brandon Wheat Kings director of sales and sponsorship Rick Dillabough said the program has been operating for over a decade across western Manitoba. He noted that it’s important for the team to reach out to its rural fan base.

“It’s all about trying to reach as many young peoples we can and it’s a great experience as well for our players,” said Dillabough. “In our last survey, we found that 25 per cent of our fans, who attend games on an average night are from outside of Brandon. That’s significant.”

“The kids in Brandon have the luxury of seeing our players on community rinks and other different facilities throughout the winter, whereas there kids growing up in the communities like Minnedosa, like Neepawa, Hamiota and Gladstone don’t have that luxury. So, for us to give up an evening and come out and do something like this and reach some kids that might not ever get a chance to see them up close and perhaps get a taste of what they’d like to do 10 years from now.” Dillabough added.

Brandon Wheat Kings forward Quitin Lisoway said he’s participated in the hockey caravan multiple times and it’s been great every time. 

“The kids love it and I know the players do as well. It definitely brings you back to your childhood days,” said Lisoway. “To me personally, it’s special to do things like this in a community like Gladstone and in surrounding communities. I know the kids really enjoy it and we do to.”

In addition to skating with several minor hockey teams in Gladstone, Lisoway, Taraschuk, Shmyr signed autographs and distributed tickets to Friday’s home game against the Swift Current Broncos. The tickets and visit were courtesy of Canadian Tire and the Construction Association of Rural Manitoba.